Photo Credit: View from the Butte Trail

5 Days in Eagle River and the Mat-Su Valley

5 Days


Mid-May through mid-September



Why This Trip?

The Mat-Su Valley is Alaska's agricultural heartland, and it's full of fascinating places to stop, as well as fun adventures. This quick trip gives you an overview of the area while offering the opportunty to see glaciers and wildlife.


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Day 1

Arrive in Anchorage - Day in Willlow

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Pick up your rental car in Anchorage for about an hour and 20 minutes to Willow. Willow is famous for being the starting point of the world-famous Iditarod sled dog race! En-route, stop at the Iditarod Headquarters in Wasilla. Watch a video on the Iditarod, explore the exhibits and memorabilia, and peruse the gift shop. Know that you know all about the Iditarod, try dog sledding for yourself! You'll ride in a modified cart through wooded trails that simulate a true winter mushing experience. Meet the pups and the mushers, many of whom have run the Iditarod themselves! (Note: some summer dog sledding tours fly to a remote glacier, departing from the Knik Area, just 45-minutes north of Anchorage)

Overnight in the Palmer / Wasilla area, just 45 minutes south of Willow.

Day 2

Drive Roundtrip to Glacier View

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From Palmer/Wasilla, it's about an hour to Glacier View. There's no actual downtown here, but it's a great place for adventures. The centerpiece is the mammoth Matanuska Glacier, one of Alaska's few roadside glaciers. Get right up to it and take a guided hike on the ice. You'll also find the two fastest ziplines in Southcentral Alaska here, as well as great opportunities for rafting and hiking. Head back to Palmer/Wasilla to spend the night.

Day 3

Day in Palmer / Wasilla, Drive to Eagle River

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Today it's time to change up your scenery. Before you depart, make sure you take in some of the attractions in the Palmer / Wasilla area. At the Musk Ox Farm, you can check out one of the Arctic's oldest living species, the musk ox; around 80 of them live here. And at the Reindeer Farm, you'll have the chance to pet a reindeer!

If you crave outdoor recreation, hike a trail in Hatcher Pass and explore Independence Mine. Or take the family on a hike up Bodenburg Butte (pictured); it's only 1.5 miles long, and the summit offers incredible views. If you're looking for something to up the adrenaline level, take an ATV tour.

The drive from Palmer to Anchorage is about a half hour to Eagle River. You can either stay in Eagle River for the night or continue on another 15 minutes to Anchorage.

Day 4

Day in Eagle River

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Stretch your legs and explore the Eagle River Greenbelt, a network of trails that wind through the river bottom. For a start, visit the Eagle River Loop Bridge Access (Briggs Bridge) to connect to the Lower Eagle River Trail for hiking and mountain biking, with connections downstream to the campground and upstream to the South Fork and Barbara Falls. If you'd like to take a hike with a local expert, check out Go Hike Alaska! The Eagle River Nature Center offers great trails to explore along with a salmon viewing platform with jaw-dropping views.

If you crave outdoor recreation, get out on the water by kayak, canoe or paddleboard with AK Paddlesports. They offer top-flight equipment for rent (and recommendations on where to go) along with expert-guided kayaking tours and lessons.

If you'd rather have a day to relax, you can see anoth­er side of Eagle River or Anchor­age and the gor­geous sur­round­ing area. Opt to take a small-group tour with Escap­ing Anchor­age, whose own­er, Brit­tney, cre­ates per­son­al­ized 3-7 hour adven­tures fea­tur­ing beau­ti­ful scenery and real insights in their comfortable, temperature controlled vehicle.

Spend a second night in Eagle River or return to Anchorage.

Day 5

Explore Anchorage and Depart Alaska

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Today it's time to make the 15-minute drive back to Anchorage and fly home. Before you depart, make sure you take in some of the attractions in Eagle River or Anchorage. If you didn't get to check out the Eagle River Nature Center yesterday, that would be worth checking out today.

If you didn't have time to explore Anchorage before heading to Willow on day one; today you should be able to squeeze in a sightseeing tour before your departing flight. Anchorage hosts options such as Food & Brewery Tours, Bus & Trolley Tours, Photography Tours, Bike Tours and even an Escape Room!

If time allows, make sure to enjoy one last authentic Alaskan meal and pick up any last-minute souvenirs before heading to the airport.